This article looks at the rights that parents have in the workplace in Ireland and the work life balance. Some people are happy to spend more time at work than at home. For others the reverse is true. Some have never really given it much thought. We look at what you can do if you want to balance home life with work responsibilities.
There is no statutory right to flexible working in Ireland. It is something which an employer has to be willing to implement. A 2013 survey commissioned by Citrix found that almost 75% of organisations surveyed were not supportive of a flexible working culture. Most had no plans to change. Fear of loss of control was the most frequently stated reason.
What is flexible working?
The definition of flexible working is, well, flexible. It can be working the same hours but broken up to suit personal circumstances. It can involve working less individual hours, but sharing the work with another person, so that the full hours are worked. This is job sharing. It can involve splitting your time between the office and home or another location (remote working).
What should I do if I want to avail of flexible working?
First of all check your contract of employment. It may be covered in it. You should also find out what policies your employer has in place covering
- Return to work after maternity leave,
- Paternity leave and
- Fleible working.
Ask your line manager or HR manager.
Items 1 and 2 are protected by law.
For item 3 you may need to start a conversation with your employer. If you can persuade them that it is to their benefit to facilitate flexible working then you are on to a winner. It will take a reasoned argument, using well thought out facts to have a hope of succeeding.
The Workplace Relations Commission have developed a Code of practice on access to part - time work. It recommends consultation between the employer and the employees in order to assess the needs,benefits and ability to provide flexible work practices. For more see
What can I do if I intend to return to work after maternity leave?
You can apply for an additional period of unpaid leave. Your employer must give the application full consideration, but is not obliged to grant it. If you don't ask, you won't get. You must notify your employer at least 4 weeks before your maternity leave is due to end. Do not leave it to the last minute if you wish to apply. Safer to give 5 weeks notice. For more see
Breast feeding at work
You must notify your employer in writing of your intention to breastfeed at work, at least four weeks before the date on which you intend to return to work from maternity leave. For more see
Parental leave in Ireland is covered by the Parental Leave Act 1998, as amended by the Parental leave (amendment) Act 2006 as well as The European Union (Parental Leave) Regulations 2013.
Parents , including those in loco parentis can take parental leave in respect of certain children. For more see
Guide to the Parental Leave Acts, Download here
Under The Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016, new parents (other than the mother of the child) are entitled to paternity leave from employment or self-employment following birth or adoption of a child.
Employers are not obliged to pay staff who are on Paternity leave, unless this is covered in the contract of employment. You may qualify for Peternity Benefit if you have the required number of PRSI contributions. For more see
If you are a sole male adopter or an adoptive mother you may be entitled to adoptive leave. For more see
What if there is a crisis at home ?
This is dealt with under Force Majeure Leave. This is not availed of much, since by its very nature, it only arises when a serious family crises calls for the indespensible presence of the employee. It is comforting to know that it is there if needed. For more see
There is no statutory entitlement to compassionate leave. Check your contract of employment to see if it is covered.
Where can I get help ?
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